Good Dental Health Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Although they’re young, babies and toddlers greatlybenefit from good dental health care. These simple tips can help you give yourchild a strong, healthy smile for years to come.

Set Up a Family Routine
Plaque is the sticky, yellow film that formson our teeth, and it needs to be brushed away every day to protect teeth fromdecay. Your baby might not have teeth yet, but you can help keep his or hergums healthy by gently wiping them with a soft cloth after feedings.
Once your baby develops teeth, transition toa small toothbrush and brush your baby’s teeth twice a day (once in the morningand once before bed). Gently brush each surface of the tooth in a circularmotion, and avoid toothpaste. As your baby grows into a toddler, continue tohelp during teeth brushing time, using songs or chants to put some fun into theprocess!
Talk with your dentist about the best time tobring your child in for his or her first appointment to the dentist, thenschedule regular appointments every six months for routine maintenance!
Discourage Bad Dental Habits
The bad news is that there are dental habitsthat are harmful to your child’s teeth. The good news is that these habits canbe broken. One in particular is thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers, which istypically how babies and toddlers find comfort. It might be easier to break thepacifier habit since it’s not attached to your child’s body as a thumb is, butthe important point is to encourage your child to stop the habit between theages of two and four years of age. Your dentist can also help you and your childbreak this bad dental habit.
Another bad habit for your child’s teeth isswallowing toothpaste. It’s generally not needed for babies or toddlers, partlybecause it tastes good so they want to swallow it. Fluoride may be prescribedby your doctor depending on where you live, which is crucial for your child’sdevelopment of healthy teeth. Swallowing toothpaste, however, can lead to whiteor brown spots on your child’s teeth from ingesting too much fluoride. Avoidtoothpaste altogether, or provide a brand made especially for your young child.
Healthy Food = Healthy Teeth
Plaque is the result of foods high in sugarand carbohydrates, and cutting down on these types of foods can help controlplaque. When the sugars mix with naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth,plaque is formed that eventually causes tooth decay. Help control plaque byproviding your young child with a variety of fruits and vegetables – crunchy,all-natural foods and those high in Vitamin C help remove plaque naturally. Addin whole grains and dairy products for a balanced diet and healthy teeth!
Another essential way to control plaque is totake your child to dentist appointments every six months. The routine exam andteeth cleaning will help keep your little one’s smile healthy and bright!
Kelly Wilson is a busy mom, former teacherand freelance writer. Visit Dr. Lance Heppler, Dentist inVancouver, WA for more information about how to teach your kids totake care of their teeth regardless of age.

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